Toombak

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OF USE:

Sudan

PRODUCT CONSTITUENTS:

Tobacco, sodium bicarbonate

HOW USED:

Product is rolled into a ball, weighing about 10g, called a saffa. The saffa is held between the gum and the lip or cheek, or under the tongue on the floor of the mouth. It is sucked slowly for 10 to 15 minutes. Male users periodically spit, while female users typically swallow the saliva generated. The user usually rinses his/her mouth with water after the saffa is removed.

WHO USES:

About 34% of Sudanese men and 2.5% of women aged 18 years and older.

PROCESSING / MANUFACTURING:

Tobacco leaves are harvested and left in a field for uniform drying. The leaves are then tied into bundles, sprinkled with water, and stored for a couple of weeks at 30 to 45ºC to allow fermentation. The leaves are then ground up and aged for up to a year. After aging, toombak vendors (in toombak shops) place the product in bowls and gradually add sodium bicarbonate until the mixture is approximately 4 parts tobacco to 1 part sodium bicarbonate. The mixture is blended by hand and constantly tested with the tips of the fingers until it becomes moist and hardened. The toombak is then placed in an airtight container for about 2 hours prior to sale.

Toombak

Page updated: 30 Mar 2021